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An Old-Fashioned Girl

thing I am. Well, I can't help it, she does aggravate me so!" And Polly gave the cat such
a tweak of the ear that Puttel bounced out of her lap in high dudgeon.
"It don't do to think of her, and I won't!" said Polly to herself, setting her lips with a grim
look that was not at all becoming. "What an easy life I should have plenty of money,
quantities of friends, all sorts of pleasures, and no work, no poverty, no cold shoulders
or patched boots. I could do so much for all at home how I should enjoy that!" And Polly
let her thoughts revel in the luxurious future her fancy painted. It was a very bright
picture, but something seemed amiss with it, for presently she sighed and shook her
head, thinking sorrowfully, "Ah, but I don't love him, and I 'm afraid I never can as I
ought! He 's very good, and generous, and wise, and would be kind, I know, but
somehow I can't imagine spending my life with him; I 'm so afraid I should get tired of
him, and then what should I do? Polly Sydney don't sound well, and Mrs. Arthur Sydney
don't seem to fit me a bit. Wonder how it would seem to call him 'Arthur'?" And Polly
said it under her breath, with a look over her shoulder to be sure no one heard it. "It 's a
pretty name, but rather too fine, and I should n't dare to say 'Syd,' as his sister does. I
like short, plain, home-like names, such as Will, Ned, or Tom. No, no, I can never care
for him, and it 's no use to try!" The exclamation broke from Polly as if a sudden trouble
had seized her, and laying her head down on her knees, she sat motionless for many
minutes.
When she looked up, her face wore an expression which no one had ever seen on it
before; a look of mingled pain and patience, as if some loss had come to her, and left
the bitterness of regret behind.
"I won't think of myself, or try to mend one mistake by making another," she said with a
heavy sigh. "I 'll do what I can for Fan, and not stand between her and a chance of
happiness. Let me see, how can I begin? I won't walk with him any more; I 'll dodge and
go roundabout ways, so that we can't meet. I never had much faith in the remarkable
coincidence of his always happening home to dinner just as I go to give the Roths their
lesson. The fact is, I like to meet him, I am glad to be seen with him, and put on airs, I
dare say, like a vain goose as I am. Well, I won't do it any more, and that will spare Fan
one affliction. Poor dear, how I must have worried her all this time, and never guessed
it. She has n't been quite as kind as ever; but when she got sharp, I fancied it was
dyspepsia. Oh, me! I wish the other trouble could be cured as easily as this."
Here puss showed an amiable desire to forgive and forget, and Polly took her up,
saying aloud: "Puttel, when missis abuses you, play it 's dyspepsia, and don't bear
malice, because it 's a very trying disease, my dear."
Then, going back to her thoughts, she rambled on again; "If he does n't take that hint, I
will give him a stronger one, for I will not have matters come to a crisis, though I can't
deny that my wicked vanity strongly tempts me to try and 'bag a bird' just for the
excitement and credit of the thing. Polly, I 'm ashamed of you! What would your blessed
mother say to hear such expressions from you? I 'd write and tell her all the worry, only
it would n't do any good, and would only trouble her. I 've no right to tell Fan's secrets,
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